Reverse the Jelly Baby of the Neutron Flow

I interrupt my whinging and Bulgarian ethnic slurs to bring you news of this out-of-this-world experience: The Doctor Who Experience, to be exact. Also, seeing Dr Faustus at the historic Globe Theatre last night, which would otherwise be unrelated.

Originally, I learned about it when I was in Cardiff and saw a sign on an area map that there was a Doctor Who tourist trap near the Torchwood set/Millenium Centre. When Karen and I were in the area, we couldn’t find it. The signs were there, but the exhibition itself was not. When we got back to the hostel, I learned that it had been dismantled and moved as of April 1st. Crushing disappointment.

Yesterday, since I decided to spend the next 3-4 days left in London (more on this later, too) I needed to figure out something to do beyond sitting on the couch and watching shit BBC3 TV. I got the bright idea to check what was on in The Globe, and then I got distracted by reading about some article explaining how H&M can get away with stealing so many prints from, like, Anna Sui or Diane von Furstenberg, which actually doesn’t interest me in the least. While on this page, it was hard not to notice a blinking advertisement that said “CAN YOU FLY A TARDIS?” The rest is history… It was showing at the Olympia 2 in Kensington. I booked a “Silver Package Adult Ticket” for 12pm on Friday where I get a tour and a whole bunch of fun stuff included (lanyard, signed certificate, poster, book, etc.) WEE.

 I left here at 10:30am because I was so nervous about getting there on time. (It was fine. St Johns to Cannon Street, District Line to Kensington (although I got off at the wrong Kensington and had to hoof it from there.)) I knew I was in the right spot when I saw a TARDIS lurching out of the side of the Olympia like some weird crash site. The guys in the reception area knew immediately that I was there for the exhibition (because nothing else was going on) and I even went into an elevator with, like, a real bellboy/elevator man.
There’s a mini walkthrough with the sets from the Hungry Earth/Cold Blood episodes. I took a picture of two frightened schoolgirls in exchange for them taking a picture of me with a Silurian. The old gentleman who was the main chaperone was hilarious and we ended up bonding over the Weeping Angels. That sounds weird. You know what else is weird? Hearing ten-year old children yelling “I WANT TO SEE THE WEEPING ANGELS. AND DALEKS! EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE, SEEK AND DESTROOOOYYYYYY.” It gave my heart like a deep cardiac plunge of joy to hear this stuff. To make it even better, I was the only ticketholder for 12pm who wasn’t a member of this large school group, so I pretended I was with them for over half an hour. As a result, I got to touch some stuff and linger longer in some areas. After a while, they figured out I wasn’t with them. Still.

We watched this pre-simulation video from Matt Smith about the crack in the Universe, which ROTATED ON THE SCREEN and the screen split vertically to let you walk into the Starship UK set. Whilst we don our “radiation goggles,” Matt Smith comes on the screen again and explains the dilemma he’s in as THE TARDIS MATERIALIZES IN FRONT OF US. I mean, it was hidden behind a gauzy screen but I was standing next to a Smiler the whole time and wanted to get the hell out of there. Thus, we walked through the TARDIS policebox doors and into one of the actual sets of the interior with an actual TARDIS console that beeped and booped and had a moving floor to simulate flight/disaster. The mock-dilemma escalates in mock-emergency because we were under a Dalek invasion, so we literally ran into the next room, me feeling as excited and young as these shrieking ten year-olds. In the next room, though, I was standing near a wall where an animatronic Dalek just came out and pointed at me to scan our brains. You watch the TV show and wonder how something that looks like an overturned bin with knobs on it could possibly destroy the whole of the Universe, but when this Dalek pointed its little plunger-and-whisk combo at me, I almost shit my pants. Of course the Doctor saves the day, and then the staff realized I wasn’t with the school group, so I had to go my own way onto the last of the exhibit.

Here, there were really valuable pieces from the entirety of Doctor Who, including the ENTIRE Doctor wardrobe with models, dating back to 1963. I almost reached out to touch Tom Baker’s scarf and David Tennant’s trench coat. Almost. I didn’t want to get kicked out. An American guy took a picture of me with a Matt Smith wax figure and I took a picture of him with the row of Daleks. His iPhone had a TARDIS screen on it, to give you an idea of the fandom surging around the memorabilia in this room. Some kids were playing in the shell of a Dalek and I was taking MySpace-like pictures of myself with the gasmask little boy a la ARE YOU MY MUMMY. There were models of Slitheen, Judoon, Oods, some other things I’ve never even watched yet.

The gift shop was unreal. As I later told Liz, I nearly bought lifesize cardboard cutouts of the TARDIS or a Weeping Angel, but checked myself. 1) I can’t fit them in my suitcase and 2) if we ever had an apartment together, a Weeping Angel is the last thing you want to see in the dark when it’s 4am and you wake up really needing a pee. So I bought some Dalek expandable towels and a Cyberman mask for myself instead of blowing dozens of pounds on DVD sets, comics, books, Adipose stress-relief dolls, reproduction Sonic Screwdrivers, or Dalek bubble bath.
It was truly amazing. Despite my utter devotion, though, I felt weird walking around Kensington by myself, clutching a big white bag that said DOCTOR WHO EXHIBITION on the side. I walked into a Sainsbury’s and bought chicken breasts and avocados just to have one of the orange Saino’s bags to cover my purchases. Dumb.

This all brings me strangely roundabout to the Globe last night, where I finally saw my first stage production of Dr Faustus instead of having to read it or– Lucifer forbid– read it out loud in a class of freshmen. I had the utmost pleasure in seeing the role of Mephistopheles acted by none other than Dr Who’s companion Rory, Arthur Darvill (“in real life.”) It’s like the role was written for him. Imagine Darvill as Roman Centurion Rory in his grief and rage as he shoots Amy, and that was EXACTLY how Mephistopheles was portrayed. Darvill went the route of utter remorse and frankly looked like some brooding Conor Oberst of the Underworld with the arms folded, leaning against a pillar and trudging to do Faustus’ biddings. It was hilarious, but it was also really powerful to watch this guy who played the most wishy-washy whipped Dr Who companion become a screaming demon in a doublet and enormous shoes.
Faustus was quite good without being too obnoxious, although I think he giggled a bit too much. Robin was also really good. I didn’t think his character was all that funny in the text, but the actor definitely clowns very well.
Darvill looked up into my balcony and I thought I’d faint from the tortured look on his face.
The spectacles of the play were amazing, with these dragons carcasses and furred demons on stilts. To my complete delight, the last spectacle consisted of the entire cast manipulating these bloody dead bodies being tortured in hell, and Mephistopheles and Faustus were playing rock renditions of the song ON THE LUTE.

I was sitting next to three Californians in the middle gallery, second row. The guy only started talking to me after I’d had a moderately-priced-but-still-revolting-Budweiser (or maybe I talked to him first because of that.) He said they run their own outdoor theatre company in California, yet he couldn’t remember the name to The Two Gentlemen of Verona after he described the plot to me. I told him about The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski but he stared at me blankly for a bit until the bell rang for the end of intermission. He couldn’t understand what I was doing there and where I was from, whether Central Jersey, North Jersey and did I permanently move to England? I think he was a bit slow in that Californian way.
Also, there were two high school-aged tour groups there, one from China and one from Italy.
The leader of the Italian tour group sat next to me during my solitary beer and tried to soothe her charges. “Gianna, do you like the play so far?” And this girl Gianna, whatever, stereotypical Italian name said, “Yes, but my English is not good enough. I do not understand everything.” The teacher lady just shrugged and, I guess, comforted her with “Neither do I. I don’t understand a lot of it because it’s not really English.”
I was like, OF ALL REMARKS TO MAKE WHILE SITTING NEXT TO ME. Let it flow over me and yell in my head “WTF, WHY ARE YOU–, ARE YOU–, HUHHHHHH.” At least they have the sense to try and enjoy it rather than to, like, talk on the phone or clip their toenails the whole time. Which I saw others do. Talk on the phone, I mean.

Overall, I’m pleased with the collective £60 I spent on a most excellent 24 hours of enlightening endeavors.


Poo-Strainin’ Thursday

I recognize that Bulgaria has yet to be written about, but other topics are superseding my trip of a life time. For one, I’ve discovered that my ear wax becomes an alarming fluorescent orange when I travel abroad.

Today, the awkwardness of the house really came to a head. Housemates began shouting at each other, denied shouting at each other in apology, and then shouted about how they weren’t shouting. I was brought into the mix for a hot second but ultimately my only role in the future is to awkwardly apologize for my existence when I run into them in the kitchen. Much like a Daddy isn’t beating Mommy, just eat your dinner situation, I sat on the floor next to a Monopoly board and watched a TV show about fat people changing their lives around.

Actually I’ve been watching TV all day. Literally.
I was originally going to go to Trafalgar to hang about the National Gallery for several hours until I saw in the news that hundreds/thousands of people were camping out around Lord Nelson’s column like so many little pigeon shits, all in hopes of catching glimpses from the Harry Potter world premiere. It was raining terribly for most of the day, so it was easy for Emily to convince me to stay indoors. As a result, I clarified, refined, or learned any number of fascinating things from the television programmes today.
The bees are disappearing.
Vegans debate about whether honey is vegan.
Fortnum & Mason sells a £31 jar of honey.
A stone is the equivalent of 14 pounds.
The News of the World PR man was not ready to be on TV this morning.
Ellen Page is a lot younger than I thought.
Eastenders is a lot bloodier and violent than I expected.
Manginas. They actually exist.
Sugar is bleached with charred animal bones.
Drinking water is sometimes filtered with animal bones.
I can buy a nice toaster from Argos online for £7.
Mucoid ropes and colon plaque. Look it up yourself. And don’t eat when you do.
And be glad you don’t have to poo into a sieve.

I really need to get this out there.

Also, I’ve been waging war against our upstairs toilet (the only one with both a shower AND a toilet.) The downstairs hallway toilet is just a toilet and the middle floor toilet is actually a tub and no toilet. It makes for a very confusing time when someone says “I’m going to the toilet.” When I first got here, the upstairs shower curtain was black with mold. Black. Not just spotty, but a complete curtain of unhealthy mold with a soapy pearlescent sheen to it that made me vomit in my mouth a little. For everyone’s sake, I went to Argos to buy a pretty one, only to discover that it. wasn’t. waterproof. WHY DO YOU SELL A SHOWER CURTAIN AND SAY IT’S WATERPROOF IF IT IS NOT.
I went back to Argos the next day and instead of returning it and complaining, I bought a second shower curtain. Two shower curtains does not a waterproof shower make, it seems, but we’ve sort of gone around the problem by tilting the showerhead lower. Problem #1 solved.
Problem #2 was to tackle the toilet filth. One morning pre-shower, I curiously stuck the scrubber in the toilet, only to find that the brown ring is not rust but what seems to be decades’-worth of someone else’s shit. I’ve used an entire bottle of bleach to get a dappled effect that looks not unlike a pigeon. Problem #2 is a work in progress.
Problem #3 was a doozy. As I showered, I realized the water was knee-level and not draining. Because I’m the biggest idiot ever, I wanted to see what would happen if I flushed the toilet. After four years at Ramapo, I’m no stranger to standing ankle-deep in my own piss, but THIS TOILET has no shut-off valve. It took me the floor rug and a bucket of toilet water to figure THAT out. I felt confident that Waterman Wayne would be pleased with my MacGuyvering as I unscrewed the tub drain with a knife and pulled out a fistful of mystery hair-soap-clot. No results yet, something is awesomely wrong with the clog. It may be worthy to note that while these shenanigans were occurring, Emily informs me that there’s water coming out of the ceiling, which is already SEVERELY water-damaged from one of the housemates’ boyfriends… Which, strangely enough, did not come up during the shit-slinging housefight that just happened.

Just for the record, I’ve only been here 12 days (once you subtract Bulgaria and Amsterdam.)
This toilet is not my goddamned problem.

I’ve got such a big, all-encompassing heart that also cleans up for people when they leave messes in the kitchen. At the end of the day, I’m the young woman who keeps going after her brand new white trainers are spoiled by someone else’s leaking bag of garbage that’s been sitting on the floor for an indeterminate amount of days.
I reflect that I’d be a good mom until I remember that I don’t care.
What I do care about is that Monopoly game I was winning until the bomb dropped.

A Weekend in Liverpool

~LIVERPOOL, England: 28/11/09, 10:00pm.

[edit: I fail to mention that the first thing we see in Liverpool is a man covered in blood, walking down Leece Street like he has no idea why we’re staring at him. He looks at us, smiles, and says “Uh. Fuckin’ birds!” when a pigeon flies in Gam’s face. Another man across the street is screaming about chickens.]

Sitting in my hostel room with three French(?) girls and a German(?) dude who just surprised them by asking them if they were done with the bathroom in French. They had a mini conversation, like “Oh! How do you know French?” “sabuh-dah…” And then he had a serious conversational fail.
1) He said “Euh… et… le ‘same thing?’ ” LA MEME CHOSE.
2) He said “Et qu’est-ce que vous faites dans la nuit?”
Thus I revealed the extent of my French by nearly falling off of my bed, laughing. Instead of innocently asking them what they planned to go out and do that evening, it was basically the equivalent of asking them if they’re prostitutes for hire. The French girls knew what he meant, but they informed him of his grievous error in conduct.
What is it you do during the night? versus what are you doing tonight?

We got better acquainted and talked about Paris after I blew my poker face. When I told them I had stayed in Barbès-Rochechouart three weeks ago, their jaws dropped in amazement that I’m still alive. (I TOLD you Friends Hostel was a shithole!) And then the conversation was over and they switched to talking in Spanish.

Before that, I had walked into the room across the hall, which was filled with drunken Irish men who insisted I must be Danish because of my bone structure. Then they tried to offer me a billion drinks and I sprinted back to my room because a boy named Dave tried to stick his hand in my butt. (What is it with the Irish?! My first day in Dublin, a guy purposely shoved his umbrella into my buttcrack!) / (I’ve never met so many guys named Dave!) I doubt it’s any safer in here with my hostel-mates, but at least they won’t be sticking their hands anywhere.

John(?) from Cherry Hill/Pennsylvania, a biophysics major studying abroad in Leeds, sat down on the bed next to me and just taught me how to adjust the shutter speed on my DSLR. Interesting people you meet. He tried pretty hard to get me to go back out into the world with him and his mates (the German guy– Sebastian– and two Spaniards: Sergio and Alberto.) John left his Canon DSLR just sitting out on his bed. I told him that was a stupid idea, but he said he trusted all of us. Here I am, sleeping with my purse next to my face.

But anyway, I didn’t mean to start in medias res. I ended up alone for the evening in the hostel and denying 3+ separate opportunites to hang out with strangers because I felt like crapola. For a moment, I seriously thought I might’ve been developing swine flu. I even called my mom to check.

The run down: We woke up at 330am and left New Cross around 430am in order to get to Euston Rail Station for our 605am train. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but we were leaving so early, the tubes weren’t open yet. Gam and I both wrote down bus directions, but I forgot something and the buses were running so infrequently that we basically walked/ran from Tottenham Court Road to Warren Street Station. DUH. I was irritable at myself and everyone I was with.
The train to Stafford was alright, I guess. There was a man on the train who REALLY needed a tissue. I could hear him sucking up his mucus every 10 seconds even through my headphones.
We had less than 2 minutes to find the train from Stafford to Liverpool Lime Street and I wanted to murder everyone for being so American. I also wished Chris was there so I could make sourpuss faces at him.

Our first thought about Liverpool was “HOLY CHRIST AMONGST MEN, IT IS COLD.” The weather got worse throughout the day, as it tends to do when we’re out on vacation. We got there a little before 9am and walked to our hostel. We thought it was a nice place, until we saw the stains on the linen… Between blood, pee, and sweat, we half-expected the infamous Doodoo Bandit to show up and trash the place.

Daria, Andy, Gam, and I hung out for two hours alone in the room until noon, when we took a BEATLES TOUR. Called the “Fab Four Taxi Tour,” we had our own personal tour guide who was also our black cab driver. He took us to places like: John’s birthplace, his university, Ringo’s “soap opera” neighbourhood, Paul’s house and the caretaker who looks like him, George’s house, Eppy’s birthplace/party flat, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and this church that had Eleanor Rigby’s grave, etc. So cool. [edit: I’m pretty sure we had THE BEST cab driver out of the whole lot, now that I’ve looked at the whole list on their website.]
What was not cool was the incessant change in temperature: in the cab, out of the cab, minimal warmth, freezing wet toes, no gloves. Daria and I had to pee. I started feeling feverish by the time the tour ended at 330pm and I just deteriorated every hour.
Danny, the cab driver, dropped us off at The Cavern Club and we watched a live cover band of kids my age. The Grace: They had an… interesting… interpretation of The Beatles’ “Taxman”, but I really loved their cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”

Ah! Another two invitations to go out! The German guy, Sebastian, let me stay but a Spaniard (Sergio?) pulled me out of bed and dragged me to the door, despite my lack of shoes. When I feinted getting ready/looking for my shoes and he realised I wasn’t coming, he gave me what an American would interpret as the “I love you” symbol. Apparently it means something QUITE different in Spain. [edit: difficult to interpret, but I guess his gesture at me implied I am Satan’s whore.]

After Danny dropped us off at The Cavern Club with little idea how to get back, we wandered into some pub with INSANELY cheap food. It was next to the holiday skating rink, for future reference. I ate some crappy lasagne, even though I wasn’t hungry. I felt stupid, because when Andy and Gam asked me what was wrong, my voice quavered and I almost burst into tears. I wanted to crawl into my too-small bed in Spotswood and have my mom make chicken soup, listening to terrible TV shows in the kitchen while my dad yells at someone on the phone about gun parts.
To be funny, I ate all of Gam’s peas. The effect wasn’t very funny.

We wandered back to the hostel even though we felt like we were back in Amsterdam (a feeling I simply cannot describe.) All of us took an hour-long nap around 6 because we felt like death and we were all laughed-out over the “Doodoo Bandit” and his work on the duvets.
We went back out– after much effort and many complaints about the cold– to a pub at the corner of the street called The Flute. It was also a throwback to Amsterdam, with the lighting and couches and open space and circles of people doing their thing. I was delirious by the point. The bartendress told me bluntly she “didn’t have time for my questions,” which made her the ONLY person in the ENTIRETY of Liverpool who was less than cheerful and welcoming and fantastic.
We left The Flute around 10pm in search of more interesting pubs/night life, but I came back here and tried not to die. Here I am. It’s not 12:20am and no one in this room is content to leave me alone.

~LIVERPOOL, England: 29/11/09

I woke up, well-rested and alive, at 10am. We were downstairs by a little after 11am. Because we were lazy and the other three were in various states of their hangovers, we ate at the cafe attached to the hostel/hotel.
Something compelled me to order a vegetarian English breakfast, and now I’m seriously considering reverting back to vegetarianism for health reasons.
The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” was playing in the cafe and I nearly spit out my toast. I frenetically bobbed along to the music, paralleled by the cafe-worker, a bespectacled guy in plaid who looks like he could be from Williamsburg, or a member of Grizzly Bear, to be more accurate. We caught eyes mid-bop and exchanged a little courtesy nod in honour of Morrissey.

Sebastian wound up talking to me until 2am about everything and nothing. After initially offering me a cookie (IT WAS A TARWEBISCUIT!!!) we fell into discussions about different education systems and the class structure of Germany. He asked me about my honest traveller’s opinion of the world (London in particular) and he told me about his town in Germany. We also sat around and talked with the French girls, sabuh-dah, who were actually only 2/3 French. Cristina was from Spain, but Clemence and ____ were French, renting a flat in Paris.
(Funny story: They told me my French was really good. They were FASCINATED that I was American and that I was capable of speaking a different language. They admitted how mean that was, but it made me feel awesome. The three of them kept inviting me into the kitchen to share a bottle of wine with them, and they wouldn’t leave me alone until I told them off in French. MERCI, MAIS JE RESTERAI DANS MON LIT POUR LA NUIT. They applauded.)  

I said goodbye to Sebastian and his friends three separate times at this point. Before he left the room the first time, he chucked a packet of Trolli Sour Glowworms (from Germany!) at my head. Maybe that’s a token of dour German regard, where he comes from.
It got me to thinking about Tidmarsh’s lessons during Shakespeare’s London, which made me miss Chris again. Jung’s coniunctio and fusion between individuals and all that cal. It was bizarre and wordly and true.

After walking around Albert Dock, we saw them AGAIN. Sebastian, John, Sergio and Alberto were sitting in the window of a restaurant. So grand total, we said goodbye to them 5 separate times around Liverpool.
Our group shuffled into a giftshop on the docks to get out of the rain, and the radio played a “new” Death Cab for Cutie song. I felt so acutely uncomfortable for not knowing it, which led me to ponder on exactly how long I’ve been away from the United States.

Albert Dock is the perfect place to meditate on your sorrows, we think. We stood over the water and fell silent. That’s how sombre it is. We cheered up by paying 5 pounds to ride Liverpool’s ferris wheel. Much like London has the London Eye, Liverpool has The Big Wheel.
Everything about it was retarded, in the most accurate sense of the word.
It was so incredibly stupid that it was actually worthy of 5 quid.

Lunch at Gourmet Burger Kitchen was no big affair. (Home of the MOST GORGEOUS BURGER.) The waitress gave us horribly wrong directions to get to The Jacaranda, which is this pub that John and Paul used to work in, so we hopped in a cab. Love how cheap the cabs are.

Jacaranda was cool. Someone selected Morrissey’s “Panic” on the jukebox and I nearly crapped myself –> fulfilled one of my bucket list wishes.
Jacaranda is also where I got married.

Just as I was discussing with Andy about how all these guys spend their days by going to work, coming home, and farting around a pub to shout at each other, these four guys come over and start talking to us. It’s only 530pm and they’re completely pissed. We didn’t really get their names, but they got our first names and continually asked why in hell we Americans were in Liverpool. Did they forget about the tourist lure of the Beatles? Probably. Duh. One guy, the nicest and most gentle, looked like Dave Foley. Another looked like he could be George Lopez’s cousin gone to seed. One guy was as rowdy as a five-year old boy who just got a new action figure and kept giving people high fives. And then my FIANCE was a larger balding gent who stole a ring off of a girl’s finger in order to propose to me.
This was all so incredibly hilarious and unreal that I had to immortalise it by calling my parents. I’m POSITIVE they were alarmed by the voicemail they left, but I prefaced it with “Please don’t be offended.” I hoped they saved it, because I could barely what they were shouting into my phone.
The rowdy guy bonked Gam on the forehead once (hilarious) and kept up with the high fives after everything he said. He tried to shake my hand when I said something brilliant and instead, I did the swipe-my-hand-over-my-hair move like those cool people do, and it was like I had just invented it, by the response those guys gave me. I felt like a million cool bucks and a number ten on the cool scale.
The Dave Foley look-alike told me that my fiance, who’s name is something like Mark McCally, is actually proposing to his girlfriend on Christmas Day this year and he wanted to get in a bit of practice.
Mark got down on his knee in the middle of the bar and presented me with the gaudiest blue piece of costume crap I’ve ever seen, but I did my duty with a perfunctory knod and a squeak. Everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing to stare at us. You should see the pictures Daria took on my camera.
What I was not expecting was when he picked me up and twirled me around in the air. Touching was limited to that, thank goodness, or there would’ve been a serious problem between our two parties.
When we said goodbye to these fellows, the mood shifted from conviviality to sobriety in less within 15 seconds. They clapped us on the arms and gave us each a kiss on the cheek (I got enchanté kisses on my hand instead, like a proper lady.) They wished us a safe journey to wherever we call home, and hoped we’d remember them all fondly.

The train station was freezing cold again, so we spent the hour waiting in the only enclosed space in the vicinity, which was a pub. Naturally. Things of note about our time spent in the pub: 1) Another drunken Irishman tried to cozy up to us, but split when Andy came back from the ATM. 2) One of the bartenders selected Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?” on the jukebox and I literally did not know what to do with myself. This would’ve been on my bucket list if I could’ve even considered it as a possibility.
It was outrageous. I was so happy.

Train back to London Euston was boiling hot. Andy and Daria wrote the first two scenes of a play and performed it for us. I passed out. Getting back to New Cross is always really GLLAIGHT** when we come back from a trip. Hot showers and dry socks.

Overall, Liverpool is probably worth another trip, if I had a different group of people to go with (ie- my parents.) They’d love to see all of the Beatles junk, plus it’s a completely underrated tourist location. The people are all out-of-this-world friendly and it’s the cheapest city I’ve been to in Europe thus far.
Plus, the accents are the best. Since yesterday, we’ve been yelling “GREAT” at each other in the Liverpudlian accent (which has a Welsh twang to it), so our GREAT would phonetically be spelled as “G-L-L-A-I-G-H-T” **
The end every sentence with “yea?”
So now we end every sentence with “yea?”

Today I felt like crap again, and my politics seminars were made exceptionally difficult.
I somehow- somehow– thought this could be cured by eating Iceland fishcakes and Thai chilli pickles. I was wrong. There is NOTHING more masochistic than eating my Thai chilli pickles. I was actually crying and yelling when I made them last week, they’re so spicy. I could never get chillis like that at home, much less from a screaming Cockney vendor off of the street. Brilliant. Another thing to miss.


The chances

More on the weird things I keep seeing that remind me of home:

I was in the library toilet reading the bathroom graffiti and someone wrote a Joyce Kilmer poem into the stall door. Scrawling “a poem as beautiful as a tree…” etc onto the door wasn’t enough, they had to physically etch it into the wood. Examine how weird this is: there are three stalls in that toilet, and three toilets in that library, and how many toilets in the other student buildings in the vicinity.
I chose that one.

People who went to Joyce Kilmer School wouldn’t even be able to recognise a Joyce Kilmer poem, but I chose that toilet and that graffiti chose me. Weird.
Sort of like how I saw some William Carlos Williams on the tube.

I missed the Seamus Heaney/Beowulf event yesterday, even though I found out Joe would’ve been willing to go with me. Sue me. He won’t die yet. I refuse to allow it.
Joe couldn’t have possibly gone anyway, because he was busy seeing THE WORST PRODUCTION of Annie, Get Your Gun EVER. Ever.

The nightlife isn’t the only thing I’m going to be severely missing when I come back to the States. What about our favorite store, Iceland? Where else can you get a day’s worth of food for 1 quid? Two ham & pineapple pizzas; a box of sage & onion turkey breast; two liters of assorted juice; a dozen eggs; a tub of ice cream; kilo bags of chips. All of these things are 1 quid. Gonna miss the Iceland pizzas.

Another thing I will sincerely miss is the quality of the cinema.
(Here comes my movie review, on top of my first British cinema experience.)
I hopped on the bus to Greenwich and promptly realized I didn’t know where I was going. Luckily, some intuition led me to the right stop for the Greenwich Picturehouse. It’s brilliant.
The ground floor had a tapas bar/full-blown restaurant, as well as a cafe bar-cum-box office. I paid 5,50 for a concession ticket… Not too outrageous, but those are Monday prices. The first floor had a nice bar, but I didn’t go into it.
The theatre I went into for Imaginarium was a good size, but it was assigned seating. The seats were incredibly comfortable, red plush, reclining. Some German couple had to sit directly next to me because it was assigned. They said they would move once the movie started, but they never did. To make it worse, she started laying all over him and looked like she was ready for a nap. I was trapped between them and a “veddy-veddy-British-don’tchoo-know” family, otherwise I wouldn’t moved too.

In America, you have 10-15 minutes of really horrible coming attractions. In Britain, you have liquor/auto ads. All of them were either for Tanqueray gin or for Volkswagen+Volkswagen sponsorships.
HOWEVER and oddly enough, Volkswagen sponsored a little short documentary on “Dudeism”. That is to say, it was all about The Big Lebowski. I was trying not to interrupt the European ambience by yelling “EIGHT YEAR OLDS, DUDE.” Thankfully I did not.
Okay, I’ll get on with it. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.

I think the negative reviewers haven’t taken several things into account. Chiefly, Heath Ledger died halfway during post-production, so they had to go back and salvage it by adding THREE new characters and a semi-alternative ending. Well done, I say.
Additionally, the critics have CLEARLY never seen a Terry Gilliam movie before. It’s very colorful or it’s very monochromatic. It’s what I imagine hard drugs to be like. Sometimes there are plotholes, but it never really matters. It’s sort of like the saying “It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about playing the game.” As much as I despise that, quod scripsi, scripsi.
I had low expectations for Lily Cole, because she’s seen as some public object rather than a human being, from time to time. The acting really was quite good. And you know what? I liked the ending. I went into the theatre knowing what would happen, but my friends who saw it the day before me complained that the movie needed to be two hours longer: one hour for more exposition and one for more denouement. Keep it simple, I say. The whole movie’s manipulated with a wonky Christopher Plummer-induced deus ex machina without being cheap.
Can I talk about Tom Waits? I think I should. He is SO GOOD at playing these sorts of characters. (I’m thinking of his own foil in Wristcutters, obviously.) I couldn’t imagine a better devil. When he danced a tango with Lily Cole, I thought I was going to lose my mind.
One important fact: When we initially walked into the theatre and the screen was black, the establishment was blaring Tom Waits’ carnival music. WHAT A GOOD IDEA, OKAY. The British woman was like “What IS this?!”

Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We’re just a million little gods causing rainstorms,
Turning every good thing to rust.

I’m so scared for this trip, which starts in three days. I’m not even concerned for my own safety as much as I’m worried about how I’m going to fit everything in my backpack. Whatever I’m going to bring. Three countries–or four, if you include the fact that we’ll be driving through Belgium– and eleven days.
Have to bring my good camera and the charger.
Have to bring my registration papers for my Ramapo courses.
Everything else is up for debate.
I know I made fun of it for months, but I’m glad I have my money belt.

warm and sunny days

I hate how I spent all of today inside because it’s been so beautiful this week; but I woke up at 10, suffering from one of those migraines that Mom (hi!) and I get de temps en temps. Y’know, the kind where you want to put on an eyemask, curl in a ball, and try not to vomit on yourself.
I took a Sainsbury’s brand paracetamol (whatever that is) and went back to sleep around noon, but I woke up with half of the migraine and a fever. Can’t do nothin’ right.

A few of us are starting to crack the tinest bit because of culture shock, on top of updating our calendars. We see how close we are to coming home, but not too soon, really. After our abroad trip NEXT WEEKEND, we won’t have as much to look forward to. That’s not to say that we’re bored, no. And we’re sure as hell not cracking under pressure from the academics. Goldsmiths is a joke in its own unique way, and possible moreso than I ever thought was possible of Ramapo.
The British education system relies more on students reading up on things themselves and therefore seminars are more . . . dialectic? . . . But everything is graded on attendance and writing essays. Listen, their holistics are way tougher, but it’s nice to be free to do what I want and not having my hand held all the time like in the United States. In the US, professors assume kids won’t do anything unless under immediate pressure. Which is true, if unfortunate. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

Thursday, Andy and I took a trip up to Camden Town. You know that saying… something like “You can get out of Brooklyn but you can’t get Brooklyn out of you?” This was me in Camden. Camden Town in all of its glory is a jacked-up Williamsburg on a street fair day.
Okay, that’s not fair.
Basically, Camden Town is arguably the greatest place in London, and if I could live there in a little flat, all would be right in the world. The markets were sprawled into these tiny streets and everything smelled SO GOOD. I was tempted to sit down at a Morroccan-style lounge just because it looked like it could be in Africa.
We got mulled wine to try, so we walked around cradling these hot styrofoam cups and gaping at shops that sold everything you could never possibly need but would want anyway. We stopped outside of this bar/studio/venue-thing because I was like “WAIT. I NEED TO FLOAT IN THIS MOMENT. ANDREW BIRD IS PLAYING.”
Andrew Bird was whistling through the street PA, I was drinking mulled wine in a street market on a crisp Autumn day, and I am in Europe. One of those moments. If Adam really is coming to visit, I’m taking him to Camden. How could he possibly hate London in a place like that?
Anyway, I bought a dress made of bamboo fabric for 5 quid.
Andy almost bought a ukelele.

I needed to do my laundry so badly, so we left Camden early to go to the launderette. I realized it was only 2 quid more for the lady to do my laundry for me, so I left her with a garbage bag-sized pile of smelly clothes. It was uncomfortable knowing that some old nanny with the snaggliest teeth ever was pawing my knickers, but at least everything’s clean now.

Chris, Andy and I made our own hot wings for dinner while listening to Beirut and Fanfarlo. I had a good laugh. Ranch dressing was initially really difficult to acquire because only Sainsbury’s carries it.

During the hotwing dinner, Mark from the New Cross Inn texted us and invited us to his birthday party on Sunday. Tomorrow. We asked him if it was a fancy dress party, but he never answered. (Americans, “fancy dress” = “costumes.”) We’ll see how that goes, if we go at all.

Shakespeare’s London yesterday was how it always is. We crack open our book, he asks us to visual something difficult, and he digresses off into whatever Carl Jung would have to say. I didn’t realize I was speaking out loud at one point, and so he spent 3/4 of the class trying to change my opinion/prove me wrong. We didn’t even get to this week’s work because I was arguing with him. Whatever. He’s taking us to see The Spanish Tragedy and Othello plus we get a free daytrip to Stratford.

After class, Karen took Daria and me to Greenwich for lunch at her favorite pub. We sneaked on the DLR for free and took it up to Cutty Sark. Greenwich is a beautiful place too, but apparently they have no supermarket, which makes living a problem.
Lunch at The Gipsy Moth was quite good, as was the conversation. I haven’t seen Karen in a while. She totally put our lives in perspective, as much as one can in half an hour with a huge burger in your mouth.
We walked around the market for an hour afterward. This one vintage shop that my mom would love was playing 40’s style big band jazz, and then I realized I knew the songs. Basically, it was a cover band and they were playing an upbeat version of “Panic” by The Smiths. Needless to say I FREAKED OUT, even if it’s not a big deal “in real life.”

Oh hey, remember that “Gingerbird” episode that happened at the pub? Here’s Emily’s photographic evidence of how “on to me” that man was (while belting out Bon Jovi songs.) Note the awkward New Zealanders at the end of the bar, pretending they don’t know him.
a gingerbird, a gypsy, and a man

I feel like crap and I don’t really have a costume beyond a leopard-print scarf and a headband with cat ears on it. Lazy.

But I only got a ha’penny!

So tired.
We took a trip to ASDA yesterday, which is the English branch of Walmart. (Hate mass consumption and production if you will, but there’d be no supply without the demand.) ASDA is pretty brilliant; you really can buy anything there, but we stuck to sweaters. I got a fantastic acrylic capelet for 8 quid.

Today we took the bus to Peckham High St to go to Primark. Nothing too interesting, other than my hot pink shoes (picture to follow…)

Tonight is a spot of resting, and then perhaps all migrating over to the New Cross Inn for tonight’s band. We missed last night’s open mic because of Taco Tuesday.

I was seriously contemplating learning Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” or making Andy learn it on his mini-travel guitar, so I’d sing it at the open mic. That’s something I’ve never done before. AND I’d be reppin’ North America. Hey-o.
I felt bad about belting it in my room when I remembered that the girl next door is deathly ill. As are we all. I’m in the process of drinking a litre of orange juice.
Every American is just dripping with illness and people like to cough on me on the bus as if I’m a sick magnet.

Both yesterday and today, Daria and I had English Breakfast at the Goldsmiths Cafe. Talk about binge eating… we go half a day without food and then eat as much of the all-day breakfast as you can. It usually consists of a combination of : egg(s), chips (fries), hash browns, sausage, bubble, bacon, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, toast, tea/coffee. All served on a plate that’s roughly the size of my backpack, with bowls of condiments.
Examine one labelled example:

I finally figured out what “bubble and squeak” is: fried leftover potatoes with vegetables, like cabbage. I’ve heard it mentioned in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, when Willy Nilly Postman and his wife eat bubble and squeak for breakfast. Examine:
Total, the traditional English breakfast + a cup of white coffee comes to 5 quid. So that’s like a meal at IHOP.
It was weird because the guy remembered us, and commented on how we were earlier yesterday. It’s okay because their coffee is delicious. (Coffee-starved.) I just realized it’s probably Turkish because I thought I saw him strain it. Like either a French press or a Samovar. I like to pretend it’s a samovar because that’s far more exotic, and the guy is some type of Middle Eastern.

Anyway, the true highlights of today— besides pink shoes– are these:
1) Went to the Goldsmiths Uni library, where you can rent movies for free. It’s got a bizarre collection and an even weirder system for organizing them, but I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five and Woyzeck, because I haven’t seen either of them. That’s right… I own the Herzog/Kinski box set and Woyzeck is the only one I can’t bring myself to watch, so I’ll do it here.

2) A woman rushed up to me in Primark while I was looking at sweaters, she turned to face me, and screamed. It was either a “Hey, do you remember me!!!” scream or a “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE THAT FAMOUS GIRL ____” type scream. Either way, when I turned to face her fully, I just said “NO.”  I don’t know why I said ‘no’ at her, but it was probably the right answer. Without any note of apology or admittance, she abruptly walked away. This has been bothering me all day. WTF WAS THAT.

3) Everyone’s been talking about this guy in a blue jumpsuit who spends all day with a bucket of water and a broom, washing the same spot repeatedly. I saw him yesterday before we went to ASDA and I assumed he was a civil servant cleaning up a spot of vomit from the night before. I thought that was nice of him. However, I came back five hours later and he was still there. In the same spot. Today, I went to Primark at noon, and the man was still there scrubbing at 4:30pm, when I talked to him. Apparently he’s some kind of performance artist as well as being a student here. I tried googling him/all combinations of “New Cross broom guy performance art space art”, but I can’t find anything. He is a new phenomenon. I’ll talk to him more tomorrow if he’s still there.

Four long days

Because my mother wants to know what’s going on constantly, no matter how tired or bored we are of taking pictures. And we are. Today was proof of that.

Taco Tuesday was a mass production of excellence. We fed roughly 15 people, which I’ve never done before; it worked out quite well, thanks to cooperation and teamwork.
Post tacos and food coma with leftover “taco omelettes”, Kelly, Andy and I went back to their flat for tea time. We ended up chatting idly even after Kelly went to bed around 4am. Andy and I decided it would be a really good idea to watch the sun rise over the Thames . . . Thus, we hopped on the Overland to London Bridge and literally raced the sun to St. Paul’s Cathedral. [Side note: I checked  to see if I can corroborate this all with Andrew’s blog, and he also used the verb “race.” We did race.]
Of course, if we’d actually looked at a map, we could’ve taken the 10 minute walk from London Bridge to St Paul’s, but instead we took 2 tube lines. Wah wah.
So we saw the sun rise over St. Paul’s breathtakingly gorgeous cathedral (in a gradual lightening, as much as possible, given that it was raining and windy.) Walked over the Millenium Bridge, around the Globe Theatre area, and in front of the bizarre Tate Modern museum, even though nothing was open because it was, like, 7am.
This brings me far into Wednesday. 

Although I went to bed at 930am, the CEA Goldsmiths kids had a date with the CEA Westminster kids at Porter’s restaurant near Covent Garden. Still raining.
I used my handy-dandy little black guidebook to get us to Henrietta Street, where we had a fine dinner at Porter’s. I had a chicken and onion meat pie with some crazy mash, as well as a wonky “Tipsy Summer Berry” framboise syrup sponge for dessert that left us all wanting to buy bigger trousers. (For clarification: the framboise sponge was like spotted dick with raspberries. That is to say, it was like a thick sponge, filled with berries, and covered in a red wine syrup. So good.)
After dinner (beginning of the tension between Goldsmiths and Westminster) our usual gang walked about Covent Garden– lit by fairy lights– looking for a Barclay’s. Moral of the story: I bought a pasty and went home. Always buy a pasty and then go somewhere. Do not be a static pasty-eater.

Ate that pasty for breakfast.
I decided that Thursday would be a good day to venture off by myself. Our Shakespeare tutor told us about this place called Skoob Books up in Brunswick. It was a really neat place, but initially not the easiest place to find. (Took the 171 to Holborn and then walked all the way up to Brunswick.) The store itself was in a basement of a mini-shopping centre, “The Brunswick”. I was so tempted to buy an armful of paperbacks for cheap, but stuck to my complete works of Shakespeare tome for a fantastic £5.50
I wandered around Camden without even realizing it. It took me 15 minutes to realize that the Euston Station is NOT the Euston Square Station. After I asked for directions in a French accent, I drifted thataway and wandered into another bookstore before I planned on getting on the tube. This time, it took me 15 seconds to realize I was the only person in a VERY GAY bookstore. So. Gay. Like, people walked by and gawked at me, probably because I looked so confused. I did stay to talk to the proprietor, but kept it short because I had a group date . . .
Took a very slow tube line to meet everyone at– guess- THE GLOBE THEATRE. They were sold out for the rest of the season but we waited on line and WE ACTUALLY GOT IN to see Love’s Labour’s Lost. It was unreal. I still can’t believe how life-changing it was, that a play over 400 years old could still affect a crowd like that. It was a gift to stand amongst other people just to feel that, even if we did have to stand for 3 hours.

My favorite tutor didn’t like my sonnet very much, because my meter was all over the place; poo-poo to him, I wrote it at 4am.
Basically, I farted around all day until before dinner. I scrambled together a curry dish (hooray, Uncle Ben!) and shared my dinner with Andy. We waited for everyone else to get out of class, and then we left for the Landor Theatre. Joe got us the last 5 tickets to see Into the Woods there, and I’m so glad we went.
The Theatre wasn’t at all what we expected, but we were pleased nonetheless. It was an old-timey hotel-turned-pub, and the theatre was a small room upstairs that sat roughly 50 people. Before the show, I accidentally offended the bartender by asking if any of the 7 crisp flavours sucked because I wanted to try them. They assumed I asked because they looked like they all sucked, when in fact I meant that I PURPOSELY wanted to try the worst flavour available. In the end, I bought “Tayto” steak & onion, turkey & stuffing, and the standard salt & vinegar. The turkey & stuffing crisps were BANGIN’. I wish I could bring some home.
Anyway, the show started and we sat in the front row. (There were only 3.)
The actors and actresses were pretty good for a small venue, belting out the Sondheim tunes directly into your face and sweating on you, they were so close.
Final opinion: the show was excellent and I would see it again, given the chance. I’d also go back to the Landor Theatre, just for the crisps. Or for another relevant show.

Today (Saturday) is going to have it’s own post.